I read an interesting little essay today about looking at today's fantasy through the filter of both Tolkien and Robert Howard. The idea was that readers generally view the two writers as being at the extreme poles of fantasy -- Tolkien with high fantasy and Howard with sword & sorcery -- but that when it comes down to it, the two have more similarities than most would care to admit. I recommend reading the essay.
What it made me think about, though, was my own unswerving difference of opinion with many fantasy readers. So many keep saying that they never want to see any more Tolkienesque fantasy, and they also seem to define Tolkienesque fantasy as having to be the super-complex, world-building, epic journey that Tolkien gave us with LOTR. To me this is just plain silly. I like to imagine Middle Earth as a real place, and further imagine what Tolkien might have done had he had a lifetime more in line with his immortal elves rather than the short life that we mortals must endure. He gave us just the barest taste of Middle Earth, a whisper of what could have been. He laid out so many possible epics in his historical outline The Silmarillion, yet he gave us only one (LOTR).
I like all types of fantasy story. I love the setting of Middle Earth, mostly because it was reinforced by my love of Dungeons & Dragons. So, I would love to see all types of stories set within a Middle Earth-style setting. I want low fantasies, sword & sorcery, epics, and high. This is why the essay about Tolkien and Howard resonated with me. So what if LOTR was high fantasy. Does that mean that there are not denizens of Middle Earth living life more along the lines of Conan or Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser? I love to imagine the more down to earth tales that might take place in cities such as Tharbad or Lond Daer. They each have their own gritty tales to tell.
Tolkien's most famous work was epic high fantasy. Does that mean that given a much longer life he wouldn't have written other tales of Middle Earth that were not epic in scope? I see no reason whatsoever to say that a story cannot be Tolkienesque while having almost nothing to do with high fantasy other than having some of the same races in it. This is what I want to do with my Tolkien-style world. I want to write any kind of fantasy story that I wish to tell, only set within a realm that reminds me of what I loved so much in Tolkien's works. I want to write stories that Howard might have been proud of, only with a high fantasy tinge to them.
NaPoWriMo 2017 - Prompt #26 - Coming Home
1 hour ago